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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 May, 2005, 20:03 GMT 21:03 UK
Snares blamed for animal deaths
Grouse shooting
The claims were levelled at a number of shooting estates
The legal use of snares on shooting estates is responsible for the painful death of thousands of animals each year, campaigners have claimed.

The League Against Cruel Sports says its inquiries show guidelines on the use of snares are being broken, harming foxes, badgers, cats and other animals.

But the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) denies causing unnecessary suffering.

Snares protect game bird stocks used to provide targets for shooting.

A typical snare - usually a small loop of wire - is used to catch a predatory animal, rather than harming it.

But campaigners allege that an investigation revealed that many snares do not have a mechanism in place to prevent the caught animal from being strangled.

'Reckless disregard'

It is also claimed that badly anchored snares are used, which fatally wound the animal but are loose enough for it to escape and endure a slow and painful death.

The League Against Cruel Sports, which wants all snares banned, claim its year-long investigation revealed dozens of examples of snares which breach the shooting industry's voluntary guidelines.

For example, campaigners claim snares have been set near badger sets, snares have been set on bridges and fences where captured animals could hang themselves in a bid to escape, and they have been left near footpaths where pet dogs could be caught.

Douglas Batchelor, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "The setting of these snares is absolutely disgraceful.

"It is done knowingly with a reckless disregard for the welfare of the animals that will be caught in the snares. It is also shameful that these snares are still legal."

There isn't a shred of credible evidence in this
Simon Clarke

And Mike Hobday, a spokesman for the League of Cruel Sports, said: "These are the people at the top of the shooting industry.

"If the code of practice is being ignored on these estates, then where on earth is it being kept?"

Simon Clarke, of the BASC, said: "There isn't a shred of credible evidence in this.

"What we have got is a bunch of fanatics crawling about in the undergrowth looking for scandal.

"They have managed to produce a couple of rusty bits of wire and it is a cheap shot at a celebrity."

See examples of the snares that are set

Otter in 'terrible' snare death
03 May 05 |  Cornwall
Shooters hunt for thirsty grouse
12 Aug 03 |  England

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